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Cyber Attacks Holding Baltimore Hostage, Threatening $10,000 A Day

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Two weeks after cyber hackers got into Baltimore’s servers and demanded 13 bitcoins — or about $104,000 — in exchange for releasing their hold, the hackers remain there, and they’ve updated their demand to $10,000 a day.

Among the servers affected include government emails, city pay services and real estate transactions. Baltimore City Mayor Jack Young said the city is not going to pay, according to NPR. The Secret Service and the FBI are investigating, along with experts who are attempting to restore service.

The software being used for this hack is “unbreakable,” according to cybersecurity expert Avi Rubin. It’s called RobinHood, and is known in the cyber world as a powerful and destructive program. With this program, experts said server data becomes impossible to access without a server key, which can’t be replicated without the original hackers.

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“I don’t even think that the NSA would be able to break this algorithm,” Rubin, also a Johns Hopkins computer science professor, told NPR. “It’s believed by the cryptographic community, both the theoreticians as well as the practitioners, to be unbreakable by today’s technologies.”

Baltimore officials said they asked Atlanta for advice, a city that found itself in a similar hole in 2018 when it faced a ransomware attack. It reportedly cost the city $17 million.

“It’s extremely alarming,” City Council president Brandon Scott told The Wall Street Journal.

As these cyber hackers hold Baltimore at an impasse, everyday life continues to stall.

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A plan was announced Monday that aims to work around the hack. It is supposed to allow real estate transactions to continue during this “technology outage.”

This is the second time within two years Baltimore has been hit. Another attack resulted in a 17-hour shutdown of Baltimore’s automated emergency system after its 911 service was infiltrated in March 2018, reported The Associated Press. Cyber attacks continue to be a rising issue in the face of national security.

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